Although I was born in New Jersey, I've lived my entire teenage plus life in New York. OK, much of the time I lived in suburban Westchester, which doesn't quite make me a "New Yawker" in the true sense of the word, but I've always had easy access to the energy, the chaos and the constant contact that New York has to offer. I know the city backwards and forwards, the stores, the people, the pace.
So, here I am, looking out the window of my new home - Lakeland, Michigan - watching a beautiful lake, a few ducks and some doves--my new neighbors. Paradise discovered, some may say. But on my last trip to New York, I cannot tell a lie--there was a part of me that just wanted to kiss the gritty pavement.
I suppose I can get used to the clean air, friendly people in overalls, natural predators like mosquitoes replacing the dangerous criminals I was used to avoiding in New York. True, the restaurants aren't as good (in fact, there are no kosher ones anywhere near me), but there is an abundance of farm-fresh produce here and nice people with whom to break bread, so I guess I can forgo the waiters in crisp tuxedos and I can learn to create the latest, greatest culinary delight instead of waiting for someone else to do it.
Eventually, I may learn to drive 75 in a 70 mile speed zone, go to a Detroit Tigers game without feeling like I'm committing adultery - cheating on my precious Yankees, and shop at Penny's, Kohls, and Target for my clothing (yes, they REALLY do that here), but to be honest, that may take a while.
When you are born and raised in the New York area, you really believe that the world revolves around New York. Like the old New Yorker cover, the sun rises and sets in New York and New York alone. Being transplanted into Michigan has been illuminating. The dry cleaner, upon hearing that I'm from New York, said, "Wow, I've always wanted to go there." There's a human being on the planet who hasn't even visited New York? Then came the clincher: "I know someone who lives near there," he told me. "My cousin," he said, "is from Philadelphia. That's right there, in New York, isn't it?"